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Med Sci (Paris). 2007 Nov;23(11):957-60.

[Antidepressants and pregnancy: risks and benefits for the mother and child].

[Article in French]

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  • 1Faculté de Pharmacie, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada.


Depression, anxiety disorders, anorexia nervosa and bulimia, all indications for antidepressant use, are common disorders in women of childbearing age. Nevertheless, antidepressant use during the gestational period remains a controversial topic. Given that 50 % of pregnancies are unplanned, the safety of antidepressants during the first trimester of pregnancy, a critical period for foetal development, has become a major public health concern. Until now, most studies suggest that physicians may often under-prescribe or discontinue antidepressants at the time of conception and during pregnancy. This may be a consequence of the concern over the safety of these agents in pregnant women and the risks they may pose to the foetus. In fact, recent studies and warnings from Health Canada and the US Food and Drug Administration have reinforced this uncertainty regarding the adverse effects of antidepressant use on the foetus. On the other hand, discontinuation of antidepressant use during pregnancy was also recently associated with maternal relapse of depression and withdrawal symptoms, which is not optimal for the mother and her foetus. Consequently, women who wish to become pregnant and who suffer from psychiatric disorders are faced with the difficult task of deciding whether to continue or discontinue their antidepressant during pregnancy. At this time, it appears important to take into account all evidence-based data to evaluate the risks/benefits of using antidepressants during the gestational period in order to help mothers make the best choice for themselves, and their infants.

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